The desire to create a guilt-free but delicious dessert is what led two former lawyers to create Halo Top, a low-calorie ice cream that can be demolished in one sitting.
The Los Angeles-based company has grown from a kitchen experiment to becoming one of the best-selling ice cream brands in America and is now sold in 12 countries worldwide.
The high protein, low-sugar ice cream has an almost cult-like following, with health-conscious gym junkies and foodies touting their love for the product on Instagram.
Halo Top Creamery COO and president Doug Bouton shared the business’ journey on Your Money Live.
His business partner Justin Woolverton started experimenting with the recipe in his kitchen, ultimately refining the recipe to what it is today using ingredients like stevia as sweetener plus skim milk and egg whites.
“The whole concept is we wanted to eat a lot of ice cream and not hate ourselves for it,” Bouton said.
The pair didn’t have plans to become the large successful company it is today but simply wanted a healthy dessert to indulge in.
“It was that basic. We weren’t thinking of starting a company or anything like that.”
With flavours like peanut butter cup and birthday cake, it’s hard to believe one 473mL tub has as little as 280 calories.
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The calorie count is placed front and centre of the packaging and Bouton says it’s the hook that draws the customer in.
“We were the first ice cream to do this and we immediately wanted to communicate what it is.
“The biggest thing is that for a third or quarter of the calories, you can eat the whole tub.”
Digital marketing is a core strategy and the Bouton says the brand listens to the demands of the “very loud and very passionate” fans.
“We are very social media focused and wanted to know what the customers want, that’s our innovation pipeline,” he said.
Halo Top uses Instagram (@halotopcreamery has 714,000 Instagram followers) and harnesses influencers in the wellness and fitness space to push the product and don’t pay a cent for that publicity.
“We send them free product but we really want it to be organic.
“We want them to authentically be fans of the product and be fans of the brand and want to share it themselves.
Halo Top launched in Australia in 2016 in a “couple of hundred” independent stores before Woolworths became a retailer in 2017 and Coles jumping on board in 2018.
With one tub costing $10, the ice cream is firmly placed in the luxury ice cream category. But Bouton says it’s not quite as expensive as Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Australia and aims to be as affordable as possible while being a premium product.
Fans will be pleased to hear that Bouton revealing new Halo Top categories and products will be released later this year, but was coy on specifics.
“All I can say is you will have Australian specific flavours. We are very much about localising the brand.”
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He is acutely aware of the brand’s popularity and opportunity for growth in Australia, especially given ice cream consumption is “the second most per capita anywhere in the world.”
Last year it was reported that consumer goods giant Unilever were interested in buying the company, Bouton calls it “fake news”.
“We were not in talks with them at the time, there was no deal on the table. We are privately held so we can’t say we are a $2 billion company.
“But it is flattering when you are mentioned with Unilever or Nestle or these other big players.”
As for whether a potential sale is in store for Halo Top, Bouton says they are only thinking 6-12 months down the track and are trying to enjoy their success for now.
“We have been approached. There are options on the table for us.
“But it took a while for us to get here and it was hard, so right now we are trying to enjoy the ride and have a little bit of fun with it,” he said.